An asshole finds a magic rock that lets him time travel.
Overview (Spoilers Below):
Takuya Arima has just lost his father as the series begins, but this tragedy doesn’t seem to get him down. After flirting with every female in sight during the day, he comes home to find a mysterious package waiting for him. Inside is a magic/science device that will apparently allow Takuya to travel through time and dimensions.
However, he’s not the only one who knows about the discovery. One of his father’s colleagues is desperate to get his hands on it, and he’ll stop at nothing to retrieve the apparatus. After being confronted at gunpoint by the man and his own stepmother, Takuya travels to another dimension (or time?) and is surprised to find that neither of them remembers the incident.
Before this show premiered, I was kind of curious about the direction it would take. It’s based on a property from an old visual novel that’s quite erotic in nature (from what I’ve heard, at least), and the story has been rebooted throughout the years. In fact, this show may actually be more closely based on the 2017 remake of the visual novel. And based on this first episode, I have no idea why it has such enduring popularity. YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of This World is just plain boring for the most part. From the cliched sexual innuendos (a joke about our main character’s teacher helping him to ‘stand up’) to the monotonous dialogue and overfilled cast, this is not a promising beginning to a two-cour show.
The problems start with our main character, Takuya Arima. He’s blander than my great-grandmother’s oatmeal, with no personality aside from harassing any women within twenty feet of him. And honestly, I’m stretching to count that as personality. The episode opens with him staring off into space. He’s had a weird daydream about his dead parents and wonders what it means. I was curious to see how he might deal with this throughout the episode, but guess what: he doesn’t! His dad has died and he is almost completely unaffected. I get it, he doesn’t seem to have been close with his father. But at least grief would give him something to do other than make jokes about the school’s nice girl being on her period and flash the new transfer student on her first day in class.
Thankfully, not everyone is as much of an asshole as Takuya. His stepmom seems pretty cool. She’s a project manager at the beach construction project and says she doesn’t want to be the kind of boss who makes her underlings do all the work while never pitching in herself. Yuki, Takuya’s best and only friend, is also a sweet guy. I have no idea why he’s friends with Takuya, but he’s the kind of person who calls to give him a ‘friendly wake-up call’, so there’s that!
The plot has some potential to be involving, but at this point, it’s just too chaotic and I have no idea what’s going on. There’s a construction project that protestors are against. Why? We don’t find out! There’s a magic machine that does… something? Travels through time or space or dimensions… or all three? And maybe the new transfer student has something to do with it? Oh, and also a naked elf showed up on a cliff, pulled Takuya in for a kiss, and then vanished into particles? Plus there’s a lot of lightning storms going on. This plot is one big storm of chaos.
On the more technical side, the show falls flat visually. The character designs are fine, but nothing stands out (except the badly-animated sequence near the beginning where Takuya walks across the room, moving like a robot on a conveyor belt). At least the dub is pretty serviceable. The cast hasn’t been announced at the time of this posting, but the lead guy does a good job playing an awful person. Also, I really dig the teacher’s voice. There were a few quotes I found kinda fun, like the line that sums up Takuya’s relationship with his father pretty well: “He died in a cave doing research, which is how I expected him to go.” Takuya is such a subtle, reserved main character: “I like him – in a ‘he sucks ass’ kind of way.” Then, when he first sees the naked elf: “Is that my dad in disguise? Man, I really hope not.”
YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of This World isn’t egregiously awful, but I wish it were. It’s sitting at an odd position on the quality scale: any better and it would be tolerable to watch, any worse and it might be funnier to watch and laugh at. But right now, it’s just plain bland. The only thing this first episode made me chant was ‘when will this end?’